If there is one rider who remains dear to the hearts of Ducati, it's three-time World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss. The affable Australian has won world titles on three different generations of the Ducati flagship superbike (in '01 aboard the 996R01, in '06 riding the 999R F06, and finally last year astride the 1098R F08), making him truly unique among the riders who have won championships for Ducati. This history with the brand has earned Bayliss legendary status within the company, something that isn't taken lightly by the Italians.
So it wasn't entirely unexpected that Ducati would introduce a special commemorative bike to celebrate Bayliss' retirement and storied career with the red desmos. But instead of taking the standard 1098 and fluffing it up with accessories, Ducati decided to get as close to the real thing as possible-by taking the company's superb 1098R homologation model superbike and running with it. This testastretta evoluzione is much more than just an average sportbike with an autographed fuel tank.
The 1098R For '09
SR's associate editor Siahaan sampled the original 1098R for a day at the Jerez circuit in Spain back in May '08 ("Superbike for the Masses"), and then we later took one to compare against an aftermarket TC system-equipped Honda CBR1000RR ("Red Rockets", August '08) on U.S. soil. For those who missed those episodes, here's a quick rehash on the 1098R's particulars: even though the new 1198 standard model now boasts the same displacement as the 1098R, the R model's valves are still larger (44.3mm versus 43.5mm intake, and 36.2mm versus 35.5mm exhaust), in addition to being made from titanium compared to the standard 1198's steel poppets; likewise for the R model's lightweight titanium connecting rods. The fuel injection throttle bodies on the 1198 are now the same elliptical equivalent to 63.9mm in diameter to the 1098R's, but the standard 1198 still only uses one injector per cylinder in comparison to the R model's twin injectors. Compression ratio is still a hair higher on the 1098R (12.8:1 versus 12.7:1), and the camshafts are much more aggressive than the standard 1198. The 1198 inherits the same gearbox ratios as the 1098R, but still lacks the 1098R's slipper clutch that allows banzai corner entries. Chassis bits include an Öhlins 43mm inverted fork up front, with the latest TTX model shock out back (the standard 1198 must do with lower-spec Showa items, and even the S-model only has a standard Öhlins rear shock). The 1098R also still one-ups the 1198 with forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, while the standard model still comes with cast items.
Where does the Bayliss Replica differ from the regular 1098R? A nice blue/white/red Australian flag-inspired paint scheme emblazoned with Bayliss' number 21 and "Ducati Corse" along the bellypan, along with a carbon fiber heat shield for the pipe to accompany the rest of the carbon fiber bodywork. A numbered plaque on the triple clamp displays the bike's lineage among the 500 units made worldwide (only 150 in the U.S., and there will be no "standard" 1098R available here, only the Bayliss Replica), and also includes a commemorative desktop plaque with the scribed signatures of Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio and Bayliss.
But what we were really interested in was the revised Ducati Traction Control (DTC) system for '09. Exclusive to the 1098R last year, the previous version required the usage of a full racing exhaust system (included with the race kit ECU that allowed access to the DTC) due to its method of pulling back spark to the point of cutting it completely in extreme cases in order to reduce power and avoid wheelspin. Because the spark was killed while fuel was still being delivered into the intake tract, unburned fuel would make its way to the catalyzer, a lethal situation detrimental to the life of the catalytic converter.
The newest DTC still retards the ignition when anything less than extreme intervention is needed, but now if serious power reduction is required, the system cuts fuel-thus leaving no unburned gas to poison the catalyzer. The new DTC has also been refined to make it as transparent as possible when it does engage. And it is no longer exclusive to the 1098R; the new generation DTC also comes on the 1198S model.
Race Technology As Standard Equipment
Our Bayliss Replica test unit came equipped with the race exhaust cans already fitted, and we weren't complaining; it's a shame to cork up what is surely one of the most stirring exhaust notes in motorcycling. The 1098R's engine is clearly distinguishable from even an 1198 with aftermarket exhaust. The 1098R barks ferociously to life when started, and its rumbling idle and lightning-quick throttle response have the unmistakable feel of a serious racing engine. This is one of those machines where it's easy to tell there's some major steam on call. Our test unit cranked out 160.7 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 87.6 ft/lb of torque at 8250 rpm, a touch down from last year's test bike but still seriously powerful. Combine that with the measured weight of 419 pounds full of fuel (undercutting the already flyweight Honda CBR1000RR by 15 pounds), and it's pretty obvious that the Bayliss Replica gets with the program when the throttle is twisted.
We've covered the pluses and minuses of living with the Ducati on a daily basis on the street before, so there's no real need to harp on the fact that it's mostly minuses. The racetrack-stiff suspension rates and racebike ergos will pound you into submission and the heat from the underseat exhausts will toast your thighs medium well if you're not riding it like you stole it. The dry-plate slipper clutch on our test unit was even more grabby and groany than the 1198 or Hypermotard units, previously our chart-toppers in the most hated clutches list.
It's doubtful any of the 150 lucky owners in the U.S. will be riding them in such a manner, so let's concentrate on where they will probably spend most of their life-on the racetrack. We spooned on a set of Michelin's fantastic Power One DOT race tires (in the "Version A" front and "Version B" rear) and headed out to Spring Mountain Motorsports Park in Pahrump, Nevada with the TrackXperience track day organization (www.trackxperience.com, 925-788-0082).
The stylish mirrors are still...
The stylish mirrors are still barely functional, mostly due to the vibration from the engine that fuzzes out the images. Bar graph LCD tachometer is still difficult to read at a glance, especially in daylight, and the sequential shift lights are only slightly more discernable when riding hard.
The Öhlins TTX rear shock...
The Öhlins TTX rear shock provides noticeably better overall suspension action than a standard Öhlins unit, with improved damping control over both small and large bumps. We appreciated the side-by-side location of the rebound (black) and compression (gold) adjusters, in contrast to the stock 1198's rebound adjuster that must be accessed through a hole in the swingarm with a ball-end allen wrench.
Because we wanted to accurately measure any differences in speed with the different levels of traction control (the DTC has eight levels of intervention, plus the option of turning it off completely), we strapped on our Racepak G2X GPS datalogging system onto the Ducati. Yes, we know the 1098R also comes standard with Ducati's DDA (Ducati Data Analyzer) datalogging system built-in, but the DDA is only able to give you comparative data at a particular time; there is no method of determining actual location on the track at a given point on the graphs other than through guesswork, and its way of measuring speed is by comparing wheelspin/TC intervention with rear wheel rpm, a mostly inaccurate method due to the changing circumference of a tire across its tread profile. The G2X's GPS system allows excellent accuracy of determining speed at a specific location on the track, giving us the crucial ability to see where and how each TC setting affects the 1098R's acceleration. Don't get us wrong, the DDA is a nice tool to have, and we would've loved to be able to compare throttle position to acceleration in the different DTC settings (something that would have required extra time and effort with our G2X setup), and being able to see the amount of TC intervention would have been interesting.
It was much more enjoyable to ride the Ducati on a track lacking the nasty bumps and deteriorating pavement of the venue used in our previous test, with Spring Mountain Motorsport Park's medium and lower-speed turns playing right into the 1098R's responsive lower-rpm acceleration capabilities. Initial turn-in effort might be a little high compared to an agile inline-four literbike like the Honda CBR, but once banked into cornering mode the Ducati's precise, communicative steering and rock-stable chassis foster entrance and mid-corner speeds that easily make up for any minor turn-in complaints. As you'd expect, the Öhlins suspension provided superb chassis and wheel control in nearly every situation we put them through, with the TTX rear shock's action a noticeable improvement over a standard Öhlins shock. The TTX has a much better breadth of damping control through the shock travel, with excellent compliance over the small bumps yet easily and comfortably absorbing any larger hits (we also greatly appreciated having easy access to the rebound damping adjustment via a knob next to the compression damping adjuster on the top of the shock, versus the frustrating task of trying to access the stock 1198 rebound adjuster through a hole in the swingarm).
Braking power from the monster 330mm discs and Brembo monoblock calipers was vastly improved over last year's model, with none of the overly fierce and sensitive initial bite that required a deft hand to keep the chassis from getting upset from the weight transfer or even the front wheel from locking when you first applied the brakes in certain circumstances. Yet none of the power, feel, and modulation has been lost with what we're guessing is a change in brake pad compound; the 1098R's brakes are now in a league with the best we've ever experienced, allowing you to confidently charge deep into corners without having to spend an inordinate amount of concentration on brake application.
'09 Ducati 1098R
Bayliss Replica Le
Best performing V-twin ever
Improved traction control system
Top-shelf suspension, brakes
Lofty price tag
DTC not adjustable on the fly
Bar graph LCD tach hard to see
A very expensive entrance ticket to an exclusive club
Suggested Suspension Settings
||Spring preload—7 turns out from full stiff; rebound damping—8 clicks out from full stiff; compression damping—4 clicks out from full stiff; ride height—12mm (three lines showing) above top triple clamp
||Spring preload—20mm thread showing; rebound damping—14 clicks out from full stiff; compression damping—11 clicks out from full stiff; ride height—4mm thread showing on linkage strut
|How Much Traction Control Do You Need?
We must admit that the Bayliss...
We must admit that the Bayliss Replica paint scheme is even better looking than the standard 1098R (which won't be available in the U.S. for '09, just the Bayliss Rep). The usual Öhlins inverted fork and monster 330mm disc/Brembo monoblock radial-mount caliper brake setup graces the front. Front brake action was much improved, with none of the grabbiness of the previous version.
Our plan was to run a session on varying levels of traction control, starting from level 8-the highest setting with the most intervention-then level six, three, then one, and finally turning off the DTC completely (we decided to skip a few levels due to time restraints). The surprising details of our findings can be found in the data section of this story, but here's a brief summary of what we discovered.
On level eight, the DTC system is obviously hypersensitive, and intervenes at the slightest hint of what it determines to be wheelspin (meaning the front and rear wheel speeds exceeding a certain difference). This makes it a bit frustrating to ride with, as it clearly pulls back a lot of power in nearly every cornering situation and the engine doesn't return to anywhere near full strength until you're nearly straight up. This setting would probably be best suited for wet conditions, but even then the disconnection between throttle and power output was difficult to deal with.
Level six was much better, but it too pulled back a lot of power in the majority of cornering situations, especially as you were in the meat of your drive off the corner. However, there were many instances where its softening of the power application as you begin your drive off the corner apex actually allowed higher cornering speeds in that particular section of a turn; it was only when you began to ask for progressively more power in the latter stages of your drive off the corner where it would fall behind the lower settings.
Level three and level one were-as you'd expect-much more selective and precise about how much power they pulled back, and a close examination of the data graphs shows that they clearly provide a better initial drive off the corner in many instances than turning the DTC off completely. It's only the final stages of the corner exit of most corners where the "no TC" bike overtakes the others. Yes, the non-TC bike ultimately turned the quickest lap time and highest top speed down the back straight, but it should be remembered that was with an expert rider at the controls; a lesser-skilled rider would surely benefit from the added safety net (and cornering drive improvement) of the DTC system.
The March Of Technology
The 6.0-inch-wide rear wheel...
The 6.0-inch-wide rear wheel on the Bayliss replica comes shod with a 190 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tire, and is painted black (versus the gold color of the standard 1098R). Note the huge diameter exhaust piping leading up to the trademark twin underseat silencers.
The advent of sophisticated traction control technology with the Ducati 1098R will surely resurrect the philosophical discussion of taking more of the riding responsibility out of the rider's hands that has dominated MotoGP, and superbike racing to a lesser extent. But even the comparatively simple DTC system is still much more complex than any current OEM traction control setup, and the added cost makes its appearance on mass-produced sportbikes still a long way off.
The 1098R Bayliss Replica is most definitely not for everyone when you consider the $43,995 entrance ticket to sampling the latest in trickle-down racing technology. But those few who can ante up surely won't be disappointed-that we can guarantee.
'09 Ducati 1098R
Bayliss Replica LE
Type: Liquid-cooled, 90-degree, 4-stroke V-twin
Bore x stroke: 106.0 x 67.9mm
Compression ration: 12.8:1
Induction: Marelli EFI, single-valve oval throttle bodies equivalent to 63.9mm diameter, twin injectors/cyl.
Front suspension: 43mm Öhlins inverted cartridge fork, 4.7 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, rebound and compression damping
Rear suspension: Single Öhlins TTX shock, 5.0 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, rebound and compression damping, ride height
Front brake: 2 radial-mount/four-piston monoblock calipers, 330mm discs
Rear brake: Dual-piston caliper, 245mm disc
Front wheel: 3.50 x 17 in.; forged aluminum alloy
Rear wheel: 6.00 x 17 in.; forged aluminum alloy
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Rear tire: 190/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Rake/trail: 24.3 deg./3.8 in. (97mm)
Wheelbase: 56.3 in. (1430mm)
Seat height: 32.2 in. (820mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.1 gal. (15.5L)
Weight: 419 lb. (190kg) wet; 394.4 lb. (180kg) dry
Instruments: LCD display panel for digital speedometer, bar graph tachometer, clock, coolant temperature, odometer/dual tripmeters, battery level, DTC, DDA, laps, scheduled maintenance, average speed/fuel consumption; warning lights for neutral, high beam, turn signals, low oil pressure, low fuel level, oil temperature
Quarter-mile: 9.91 sec. @ 147.95 mph (corrected)
Top speed: NA
Roll-ons: 60-80 mph/2.70 sec.; 80-100 mph/3.22 sec.
Fuel consumption: 28-36 mpg, 33 mpg avg.
TRACK MAP Spring Mountain...
Spring Mountain Motorsports Park's 2.2-mile main circuit boasts a collection of turns ranging from slow to fast in an entertaining layout. Its variety of turns allowed us to put the Ducati's traction control through a number of different situations, which we've analyzed here.
|TURN 1-2 SEGMENT TIME AND EXIT SPEED
|TURN 4 SEGMENT TIME AND EXIT SPEED
Turn 2 is a long,...
Turn 2 is a long, left-hand sweeper that places an emphasis on maintaining edge grip of the tire at maximum lean for an extended period. Note that the highest two DTC settings (level 8/yellow, level 6/green) both have the highest average speed through the middle of the corner, while the lower settings waver more due to increased difficulty in managing the power and available traction. What's even more interesting is that the level 3 setting (blue line) actually has the best drive off this corner until the final stages of the corner exit (not shown), where the no-TC setting finally overtakes it.
Turn 4 is very tight...
Turn 4 is very tight left-hand hairpin (average speed at the apex is 40 mph) that leads out into an increasing radius, slightly off-camber exit, so a premium is again placed on maintaining tire edge grip, but this time under very aggressive acceleration. Speeds are pretty even once acceleration begins from the apex, but what's immediately noticeable is that level 3 (blue) holds a distinct advantage over all the others-including level 1 (orange) and no TC (red)-until well into the final stages of the corner exit. Even level 6 (green line) holds an advantage over level 1 and no TC until about 72 mph, where the others soon overtake it.
This section has a fast constant-radius right leading up to slow left-right chicane, placing an emphasis on throttle/power application off the exit of the last right. Because of the tight radius of the final right, the bike is picked up straight pretty quickly off the exit, meaning the Ducati should be at full power a lot quicker in any of the TC settings than usual. Interestingly, level 6 (green) has the highest average speed through the actual chicane itself, although it quickly loses out once hard acceleration begins on the exit. What's even more notable is that the no-TC setting looks to get an early jump accelerating off the exit, but tire spin quickly negates that advantage, and both level 3 (blue line) and level 1 (orange line) hold a major lead well down the front straight that the no-TC setting doesn't claw back until the very end (not shown).
|CHICANE ENTRANCE SPEED, SEGMENT TIME, EXIT SPEED
|1098 ACCELERATION RATE
| TC SETTING
Whiz bits. I like aftermarket high-end performance parts and high-tech gizmos, and there is nothing I like more than a motorcycle covered in whiz bits. Ohlins, Brembo, Marchesini, Termi, titanium, traction control, data systems, and carbon fiber. Just looking at this bike gets you pumped before you even throw a leg over it.
Even better than the looks, is the ride. This bike is the real deal. All of these whiz bits make for an awesome experience. The bike handling and suspension, which are the same as many AMA racers use, was compliant, and the feel was absolutely confidence inspiring. In the big radius corners at Spring Mountain, it was just you and the tire. The communication between rider and pavement was outstanding. The engine, for a twin-heck for any engine-just pulled all the way to redline like a freight train. The TC was a bit of a disappointment. I found myself saying, "Really? I'm approaching the limit?" My sense of traction seems to be a lot different than the TC system. However, these were not the OEM tires, and there is no way Ducati can account for the optimal wheel slip percentage for every tire on the market.
A race bike for the masses, if you have amassed $43K. Is it worth it? If you're after the ultimate 1098, absolutely.
I'll have to admit that riding the 1098R on a racetrack not laden with nasty bumps everywhere has changed my opinion of it. Instead of getting all wound up as the chassis was tied into knots by the engine's stupendous power, the Ducati was free to ripple the pavement as it charged off the corners like a locomotive running on nitro. The V-twin desmo's flexibility allows you to avoid numerous shifts in tight sections of the track, and its acceleration off of slower corners makes for some of the best fun I've had in years at the track. This is the type of power potential production street-going twins should've had from the start; if they had, I'm sure we'd still be seeing more V-twin sportbikes in manufacturer's lineups today.
I know how difficult it is to design and implement a truly adaptable traction control system for a sportbike/racebike, so I'm not as apt to be so judgmental now regarding the DTC's somewhat simplistic adjustments. That a manufacturer-and a small one such as Ducati-has even offered up a system like this on a production motorcycle is a major step forward, and the test results here prove that there's plenty of potential for even better performance.
Yes, the 1098R is out of my league price-wise, but it's nice to know it's still there.